Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Community Health Sciences

First Advisor

Susan Hrostowski, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Social Work

Abstract

Mississippi is currently experiencing an HIV/AIDS crisis. The state is ranked in the top 10 for diagnoses of HIV infection, with Jackson, Mississippi ranked sixth in the nation for HIV diagnoses and fourth in the nation for AIDS diagnoses. Despite antiretroviral treatment allowing for persons with HIV to lead healthy lives, Mississippians continue to die from AIDS in large part because of stigma, misinformation, and lack of resources. This is furthered by Mississippi’s HIV criminalization law. HIV criminalization laws are used to penalize HIV exposure, but HIV-specific criminal laws are considered largely ineffective public health policies because these statutes further stigmatize, do not account for lack of criminal intent, include misinformation, and do not reduce infection rates. Mississippi Code ANN. § 97-27-14 perpetuates all of these issues by including saliva, urine, and feces as a crime of endangerment by bodily substance, even though these substances have very low risk of transmitting HIV. In this study, Mississippi’s existing policy was identified using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Policy Analytical Framework, and three possible policy options were analyzed and scored based on public health impact, feasibility, and economic and budgetary impact. Results of this analysis strongly indicate that Mississippi Code ANN. § 97-27-14 should be amended to be scientifically accurate and include a criminalization clause based on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States goals and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division best practices.

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